A Roadmap Of Illuminating The Faculty Prosperity
On a warm Wednesday, Team Monday Morning had an opportunity to have a conversation with Prof. Bankim Chandra Ray, who has recently been appointed as the Dean of Faculty Welfare. The following are the details of his responses concerning some pressing issues concerning the faculty of NIT Rourkela.
Monday Morning(MM): Team Monday Morning congratulates you for taking up the position of Dean, Faculty Welfare. It’s been stated that your Office has been very active in the next round of faculty recruitment. Please share your experience about it.
Dean Faculty Welfare(DFW): I took charge on 1 July 2017 as the Dean, Faculty Welfare. From the first day itself, faculty recruitment has been my top priority. The prime reason for this is that faculty recruitment has not been done for a period more than three years. Faculty recruitment is a very important exercise as it is directly related to the overall development of the institute. Since the ranking of the institute, progress of students and scholars, and the overall growth of the institute depend on the same, faculty recruitment should be a regular exercise in an institute of national importance. I have served as a faculty for about three decades now and I understand the struggle and vulnerability that a faculty is confronted with. Regularization of faculty recruitment is a much-needed change which I aspire to achieve. I am doing my best to make the procedure transparent and accountable as well. My focus as the Dean of Faculty Welfare would be to make sure that the faculty of the Institute are given the right encouragement and a conducive atmosphere and that will keep them motivated. I feel that there is also the need for a less formal atmosphere and it will improve the camaraderie among the faculties as well as between faculty and students. I also wish to bring a change in the criteria for selection of some positions of responsibility which are usually reserved on the basis of seniority of age. Adapting to change and improving the cultural environment of the institute are imperative.
MM: In an Interview with the Director in the August of this year, he (the Director) had conveyed to Team Monday Morning that the advertisement for faculty recruitment has been published and we can expect filling up of vacancies in the various departments within a year. Please update us about it.
DFW: The faculty recruitment advertisement was notified on 28 August 2017 owing to a huge crunch of faculty in many departments. There are 485 sanctioned faculty positions and there are several vacancies. Say, for instance, Biomedical Engineering has 12 vacancies. Additionally,
- Civil Engineering:16,
- Computer Science: 25,
- Electrical Engineering: 23,
- Industrial design: 15,
- Mechanical Engineering: 26,
- Mining Engineering: 10, and
- School of Management has 9 vacancies.
Overall 203 vacancies for faculty positions are there in various departments. The catch is that 55 out of the 203 positions are unreserved. As many as 40 SC, 26 ST, 82 OBC and 15 PWD vacancies are to be filled up eventually. We have received thousands of applications this time and the shortlisting of candidates will start soon.
MM: Given the fact that faculty welfare is directly related to student welfare, teaching, and research, and these all together are reflected in the ranking of our institution, how do you negotiate between faculty welfare and student welfare? What mechanisms do you plan so that issues of faculty and student welfare are addressed in a coherent manner?
DFW: I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the question addressed. It is indeed a fact that the student welfare and faculty welfare are integrated sites much beyond what is apparent often. Hence, I have taken a few steps to improvise student as well as faculty welfare simultaneously within the short span of my appointment as the Dean of Faculty Welfare. I have persuaded the Director to renovate the classrooms of all the departments as a lot of classrooms are in a dilapidated condition. Depending upon orientation, architecture and climate, the lecture halls and rooms heat up quickly or become suffocating. Hence, I have requested the authorities to improve the cooling system of the buildings. This is one of the instances illustrating the intersection of student and faculty welfare. Additionally, no well-formulated mechanisms can be followed but my vision is to encourage the entire faculty to follow their ambitions pertaining to classroom teaching, research and publications and extend the same model to the students. Improving informal interaction of faculty through common meeting spots like tea stalls or restaurants is also on my agenda. The faculty should be accessible to students at all times. During my tenure as On-Campus Business Chairman for 12 years, I ensured the construction of eateries and tea stalls in their present form.
MM: Why do you think that there has been a lack of funds for undergraduate research projects?
DFW: I feel that a more pragmatic option than allocating funds for undergraduate projects would help to integrate the Undergraduate, Postgraduate and PhD students under a research project a faculty member is working on. The research project can be divided into different modules and be assigned to different levels of students according to their capabilities. But much more can surely be done and I’ll look into the matter.
MM: While interacting with some faculty members of our campus, we came to know that most of the faculty members are to be interviewed for promotion this time. How have you planned so that the interests of both internal and external candidates are taken care of?
DFW: I cannot provide a concrete comment on this issue that you are addressing. I am part of the process. The advertisement, application and screening are processes controlled by both the concerned departments and the Institute. I am a facilitator to organize the same. The intervention of my office is not dominant in all these processes moreover. First, in case of a doubt, the benefit of the doubt goes to the internal faculty. I can say that from now onwards, the departmental interviews shall be carried out for a minimum period of two days; one day exclusively for the internal candidates and the other for the external candidates so that interests of both the categories of candidates are taken care of.
MM: We are told that some faculty members have gone a whole pay commission period, i.e., 8-10 years or more, without a promotion. And they have been quite productive in terms of academic and research output. There’s a change in pay commission which is soon to be implemented across CFTIs and Universities. How are you planning so that the interests of these faculty members are taken care of?
DFW: True indeed. This round of faculty recruitment will cater to the need of long-serving faculty members. The National Institute of Technology Council has given us directions and we are in the process of implementing it for serving faculty. In case of a constitutional crisis, I plan to take the help of home or allied branches and the process will be smoother.
MM: In the last few years, there is a significant growth and development at NIT Rourkela: say, everything has doubled; student intake, number of faculty and staff, expenses of the library, security expenses, expenses of the hostels and so on. But accordingly, we are told, the budget of individual departments has not been increased to a significant extent. Can your office do so the thing about this?
DFW: The growth of NIT Rourkela is much more phenomenal than any other NIT in the country. We have about 1000 PhD students which are far more than any other NIT. But it is all about our policy. If we ask for more budget, we get it, but there has to be a proper justification. The infrastructure of the departments should be developed but not as a personal endeavour but as a departmental endeavour. If, as a department, faculties petition the Administration with proper justification, I’m sure we can achieve a phenomenal target.
MM: Let’s go a step further while mentioning the profession of teaching-learning activities. Beyond the personal problems, worries, salary and promotion, teaching is, in reality, a spiritual vocation. Unfortunately, in the contemporary world, we are more concerned about personal development rather than societal development. Say, our priorities have changed. What plans do you have so that the sanctity of teaching profession remains crucial to our campus community?
DFW: Material success is very small compared to spiritual success. Spiritual success is what we need now. If a teacher can become successful in his/her own terms and conditions, he/she will eventually become selfless and start developing the organization and society. He/she will contribute holistically towards the overall development of the workplace. A satisfied teacher could make great students and can create ample opportunities for professional development in the institution. That, however, does not happen in isolation. For such growth and development, our institute would provide a conducive environment. Faculty recruitment and promotion are also integral parameters to take teaching vocation to a greater height. So, as an administrator, I’ve to focus on this area as well so that faculties are free from material worries and take their profession spiritually.
MM: Beyond recruitment and promotion, what areas of faculty development are you planning to undertake during your tenure? What’s your vision of “Deanship”? Apparently, would you like to contextualize the term “welfare”?
DFW: My motif is to balance both teaching and research, and to provide basic infrastructure so that a professional interaction between faculty and industry, faculty and society, is by and large facilitated. I am striving to achieve that end. In addition, to provide a comfort level to faculty members at work-place is another area that I plan to take up. A cordial relationship between the administration and faculty is a top priority now. I must mention here that our best strength is our “research”; I proudly say that our research output and citation parallel some of the old and best IITs and this is our beginning and not the end. There’s also an ample scope for enhancing the teaching and research culture that we have initiated. Our acquaintance with trending technology will surely give us a better name. student engagement with research will help faculty members with extra hands so that our development is faster. These are some of the areas I’ll focus on soon and this is apparently “vision” and “welfare”. To be precise, initially, only recruitment process, its woes and the solutions came under Dean, Faculty Welfare. Its purview has increased off late, and overall welfare including opportunities for career growth, health and emotional welfare of teachers find a place under Dean, Faculty Welfare.
MM: With regard to the ranking of the Institute, it is because of an overall development of faculty, research scholars and undergraduate students (including alumni) that NIT Rourkela has been ranked high by different national and international professional bodies. How do you plan to take NIT Rourkela to a greater height from here?
DFW: Yes, every stakeholder of our institute has a claim in the success achieved. I plan to address the faculty community at least once a semester. The main agenda is to meet their expectations and collect their feedbacks. As an administrator, the effect of this will soon be visible in the ranking of our Institute. The idea is to become “auditable” and to become “accountable” to create a better future of NIT Rourkela.
MM: What is your message to the faculty community in general?
DFW: Enjoy your profession, love your students, keep learning, rise above the competition and give your hundred percent to your profession. It is a noble profession. Remain content and keep working with a zeal that would help you, your students and the institution to reach new heights.